All Collections
Knowledge is all
Brain Fog
What are the Causes of Brain Fog?
What are the Causes of Brain Fog?
Base Medical Team avatar
Written by Base Medical Team
Updated over a week ago

You walk into a room and have no clue what you came for. You stop mid-sentence and can’t remember what you were talking about. You realize that you have been staring at the computer screen for 5 minutes, and have yet to type a single word.

Sound familiar? Living with brain fog feels like you’re half asleep all day long. It is difficult to complete work tasks, have meaningful conversations, remember what you have read, or do simple housework. Even leisurely activities like watching a movie are less enjoyable if you can’t focus.

Brain fog is extremely frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Once you identify the root cause, you can take steps to address it.

What are the Causes of Brain Fog?

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog, also known as mental fatigue, is not a medical condition, but describes a group of symptoms that result from an underlying cause. Some of these symptoms include difficulty concentrating, forgetting things easily, scattered thoughts and “fuzzy” thinking.

Everyone experiences brain fog from time to time. Consistent and persistent brain fog, however, is an indicator of an underlying problem.

Common causes of Brain Fog

Nutritional Deficiencies:

Nutrients are the essential substances that your body needs in order to survive, grow, and reproduce. Adequate intake of nutrients is vital for optimal health, and ultimately, for survival.

Without the proper nutrients and adequate amounts, your cells do not have the tools needed to perform their jobs. Ideally, you would consume all the necessary nutrients through the food that you eat. Even with a well planned, healthy, diet it can be difficult to get all of the nutrients needed. Additionally, your body may not efficiently absorb nutrients.

If you are experiencing difficulty with focus, concentration or other symptoms of brain fog, this could be the result of a nutritional deficiency. Many nutrients are critical for brain function. Inadequate levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids [1] can cause brain fog.

Vitamin B12 is important for healthy nerve cells, as well as the production of brain cells. It supports healthy neural pathways.

Vitamin D plays an important role in communication between brain cells.

Omega 3 fatty acids support and protect healthy brain cells.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate cell activity within the different body systems. They are critical for communication between the body and the brain.

When hormone levels are out of balance, the body is affected in many ways, including brain fog.

Brain fog is a common symptom of thyroid disorders, including both hyperthyroidism, overactive thyroid, and hypothyroidism, under active thyroid.

Changes in estrogen and progesterone [2] interfere with memory, focus, and cognitive function.

Serotonin, dopamine and cortisol are hormones that can cause brain fog when out of balance.

Chronic Stress:

Everyone experiences stress from time to time. The body has natural mechanisms for stress management and is equipped to deal with these daily stressors.

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the/your body. It has a direct impact on cognitive function and can contribute to brain fog. When stress is persistent, it can cause your central nervous system to go into overdrive.

Your adrenals can become fatigued, struggle to regulate, and your resources for stress management are depleted. [3]

When presented with a perceived threat, your adrenal glands secrete the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, your adrenals struggle to properly regulate stress hormones. Low levels of cortisol can lead to brain fog/impaired/foggy cognitive.

Insufficient Sleep:

It is no surprise when a late night of binging Netflix leads to less productive work day.

If you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you may experience consistent brain fog. [4]Sleep is essential for life. Yet 1 in 3 Americans are not getting enough sleep. The body needs to sleep in order to regulate, maintain balance, repair and protect.

There is a distinct link between sleep and cognitive function. Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair brain cells’ ability to communicate.

Quantity of sleep is important, but so is quality.

Deep sleep is critical for optimal brain function. You may be sleeping the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep, but if you are not sleeping soundly, your body will suffer.

Other Causes of Brain Fog

Health Conditions: Sometimes brain fog is a symptom of a medical condition, such as fibromyalgia. Other conditions that cause mental fatigue include chronic fatigue syndrome [5]multiple sclerosis, hyperthyroidism, ADHD, and anxiety and depression.

Medications: Foggy thinking can be a side effect of a medication. Some medications that are known to affect focus and concentration are chemotherapy/cancer drugs, blood pressure meds, antihistamines, as well as sedatives and sleeping aids. If you suspect that a medication is causing brain fog you should discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Lack of Physical Activity: Exercise increases blood flow, improving memory and cognitive function. Physical activity has also been shown to improve neuroplasticity, the body’s ability to create new nerve cells and pathways.

How to Reduce Brain Fog

You don’t have to settle for foggy, unfocused days.

The most effective way to treat brain fog is to identify the underlying cause. Armed with that information, you can make informed decisions and take charge of your own health. You have the right to your own health data. At-home testing empowers you to go beyond the symptom, and address your specific needs. Stop guessing, and start measuring.

Persistent brain fog can impact every area of your life and make the simplest task seem overwhelming. The good news is that you can make lifestyle changes to reduce mental fatigue. The results you get from at-home testing will point you in the right direction. Armed with data specific to your internal health, you can make informed adjustments to improve your wellness.

How are you sleeping? Consider establishing a calming evening routine to ensure that you get to bed on time, and sleep soundly.

Take an honest assessment of the stress in your life. What steps can you take to reduce your stress? Learn some stress management tools, such as breathing exercises or meditation.

If you suspect that food sensitivities are contributing to your brain fog, it can be helpful to eliminate potential triggers one at a time, and observe how your body reacts.

Exercise, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy balanced diet including fresh fruits and vegetables will improve your overall wellness.

Tired of guessing? Get started today with Base at-home testing.

Did this answer your question?